A night of fast-paced double crosses, psychological twists and Manhattan murders are taking centre stage at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
Set in the luxury apartment of Camille, a Manhattan socialite of “a certain age” (played by Kim Strauss), Deadly Murder gets straight to business with Camille attempting to divest herself of one-night stand waiter Billy (Connor Marghetis) who, in turn, most ungallantly rejects this post-romp dismissal. Attempted offers of “cab-fare” escalate to sex tape blackmail and the summoning of security guard Ted (Tim Finnigan).
Revealing himself as an accomplished hustler, Billy soon has both Camille and Tim disarmed with a scenario shift from opportunistic burglary to pre-mediated shakedown. From this point on, hairpin twists come fast and furiously throughout the two acts with murders, both real and imagined, moving the action along in thoroughly entertaining order through to the final curtain.
In the interest of full disclosure thrillers are not my predilection, so the competence and enthusiasm the cast brought to the stage was a gratifying element of the evening.
Marghetis is a charming and scheming interloper, although a dollop of pure menace could only enhance his part. Finnigan, while capable at times, struggles to characterise the full weighed of down-trodden desperation in the role of the indebted gambler security guard.
Kim Strauss, however, is a stand-out as Camille embodying the quintessentially clever, slightly-jaded, socialite with energy, insights and timing as sharp as any hustlers. It was with trepidation transformed to admiration that we watched Strauss, without training or experience, take to the stage commanding the room with a highly believable personification of a rather multi-faceted Camille.
From the very outset, while attempting to shift her unwanted lothario, Strauss moved seamlessly from charmingly indulgent to confidently direct telling Billy to “suck it up and move on”. On stage almost throughout and with the lion’s share of dialogue, Strauss assuredly kept pace, drama and our avid attention.
The trio’s witty delivery and obvious synergies elevate the evening above whodunit plotlines to a fully-formed production that’s a pleasure to watch through to the clever if/then ending.
Deadly Murder runs at the Ottawa Little Theatre (400 King Edward) until November 2. Tickets can be purchased online.